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Overwhelming reflection.

Overwhelming reflection.

Hey everyone!

I hope you are all well?

It’s been an incredibly scary week for me. In my last post I spoke about publishing the preview of my upcoming memoirs on Amazon. This fear is, for me, justified and well founded, as I am, for the first time, speaking openly about my past. Speaking about myself has been something that has come very easy to me for the last two years – This because, through the mistakes I have made in life, I have grown to become a person I am comfortable with.

The book preview has done really well, far better than I thought it would have! It reached #1 Best Seller in two categories and reached the top 30 in the overall biographies on the kindle store – it was so overwhelming.

The biggest thing for me though, was not the placing of the book on a list, it was the reaction from people reading it. I spoke about things in my past I am not proud of – things I never thought I would reveal publicly. It wasn’t easy, in fact, just before I submitted it – there was a lot I hadn’t included.

I guess I expected a negative reaction. This, mostly because of snippets of and comments about it posted online when I was spoke about in the press. I spent hours in tears after reading things said about me in 2013, so much so that I took down my blog and suspended my twitter profile – it was a really difficult time.

Since writing in a blog, the feeling of freedom is hard to express in words. I don’t know how I would have coped without being able to freely talk about my feelings and thoughts…and it has been actually been incredibly liberating to extend that to before 2012! I faced one of my biggest fears.

Of course, this hasn’t come without it’s downside. It has been hard to relive moments from my life that I would love to forget, however, reliving it, and for the first time expressing my emotions about it, has taken a huge weight off me….it has freed me.

I am still working on the book, still decided what to include, and I really hope it is met with the same positive response that the first chapter has!

I owe every single one of you a huge debt of gratitude for giving me the strength to be able to do this, and for your absolute support and love during my journey.

All my love, as always,

Jayce
xx

 
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Posted by on January 29, 2015 in My Blog, Support Not Stigma

 

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What’s new?

Hey everyone! I hope you are all well!

So we are 10 days into 2015, and well…this year hasn’t got off to the great start I had hoped for. Work pressure has somewhat increased….at the worst possible time of year. Budgets are all but gone for training…leaving my fledgling business struggling to cope….and more so, me struggling to cope.

I haven’t been in a good financial situation for a while now – with bills, expenses and a business to run….it’s not been easy. It’s frustrating that, living in an area known for its higher than average unemployment rate…I’m not in the best geographical place to get an evening or weekend job either.

I do have something in the pipeline that will end my struggle….although it seems more and more out of reach as each day passes!

I guess my frustrations are increased, and my anxieties heightened because I have FINALLY listened to my doctor and HIV specialist and given up smoking! I have been told for a while that I should for what feels like forever, but I guess, I never wanted to before. I’m not really sure what has brought it on, but I am glad to have been able to do it – and relatively easily too! I am using a vapour nicotine substitute to combat cravings, but since the 27th December, I have been smoke free!

I already consciously eat healthily and ensure that I am well nourished, so I guess the next thing I should do, is to start exercising! I used to go running, and was always a keen swimmer….so I am hoping the transition back into it will be as easy as the smoking cessation!

My quest for a bubble butt and biceps is my driving force! Vanity….maybe….but I would love to be able to look in the mirror and be happy with the reflection. Over the last two and a half years, I have become very insecure….masked i guess, but countless selfies…that I can assure you, is never just one quick snap!

Other updates are that my autobiography is coming along….although the original date of completion has been pushed. I am really undecided about where to start the book – after making the decision not to focus on my childhood for personal reasons.

I have also agreed to write a short blog for GtenMedia – my first post was published earlier this month; just introducing myself and giving a brief rundown of the last few years!

Not much else to say guys, so I’ll leave it there!

All my love, as always,

Jayce
xx

 
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Posted by on January 10, 2015 in My Blog

 

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2014 – The year that everything changed

It’s that time of year again. The time when i sit in front of my laptop and reflect on another turbulent year. It has, as is the case for every year before it, been filled with highs and lows, laughter and tears and another huge learning curve.

This year has been one of personal development for me. Giving up on looking for love and for companionship – this year I concentrated on myself. I put my efforts into work this year and have ended the year, professionally, in a great place.

It started this year by teaming up with my mum’s training company and developing ‘Train The Change: HIV, AIDS & Stigma Awarness'; a training campaign aimed to improve awareness and try to help in stigma surrounding HIV & AIDS. As always with these things, red tape is put in place and barriers thrown up in front of you. Sex and relationship education in the UK is, at present, not a mandatory part of the national curriculum – something that is being fiercely fought for by people across the country.

The launch of Train The Change seemed to put me in a good light with big organisations, none more so than the Public Health Department of Kent County Council. I was asked to attend an international conference and give my views and advice on how to tackle the above average rate of late diagnosis in my part of the country. It was something I thought long and hard about and cam to the conclusion it lay in three areas – three areas KCC are now focusing their efforts it seems.

I was then asked to join edUKate Training full time as the centre manager, and later bought shares and became the Managing Director. It had happened…I had become a proper grown up! This complete career change was incredibly exciting to me. It wasn’t my first time in the education sector, I once worked as a teaching assistant – but this time, it felt like something I would enjoy doing. It challenged me mentally, and I love to learn and to teach. Adult education seems to be a perfect fit.

The new pressures of work meant i didn’t have much time to dwell and to brood like I had done for the last two years, meaning mentally I was allowed to move on in my journey with HIV. I attempted several times to write a blog post ‘bowing out’ if you like, but the thought of walking away from blogging, which has essentially been my therapy for the last two years, was a decision that wasn’t easy to make.

I suddenly came to realise that, I wasn’t writing, because I didn’t have anything to write about. I started this blog pouring my thoughts and emotions into it in a world new and confusing to me. Over the two years I had been blogging, I guess living with HIV had for me, become just a normal thing – a non-issues. It was then i came to the conclusion, I didn’t need the therapy anymore – I had reached the end of my journey.

I spent four months ‘getting on with my life’ and, although I have friends that I talk to, I started to feel almost lonely. I hadn’t, as I felt I had with the blog, been able to sound off without reservation. It was after a pep talk with a friend urging me to return to it, that I decided I would return to it.

Earlier this year, I am sad to say, I was involved in a homophobic attack for the first time in my life. Walking home after a fun night out, ended with me having to go to a&e and have stitches. I did what I always do, put a front on it and pretend like I was ‘strong’. The sad truth of it, was that it had affected me deeply. I was worried about going out and avoided it for two months.

On my second night out since, I was again, attacked by a drunk. This time, it wasn’t a homophobic related one – I was just literally caught in the crossfire of another fight. This time, it really got to me. Both of the attacks have had their toll on me – so much so, I refuse to go out in my hometown anymore.

Earlier this month, I visited Brighton. It was a short visit but an eventful one as always. I was there to see a good friend of mine, and spent the day having serious talks, laughs, jokes and of course, a few cheeky drinks. It was a visit I thought would be a somber one, but wasn’t. I also visited an ex partner and cleared the air…a conversation that gave me a massive feeling of closure.

An incident happened in Brighton – an utter betrayal of someone I probably should never have given my trust. I won’t talk about it because I wouldn’t give them the glory of being talk about. It did however, give me the push I needed to finally write the book I have asked to write for the last two years.

It has been incredibly liberating, if not a little scary.I am glad I have finally found the courage to share the story before I was diagnosed. Whether the book is a ‘bestseller’ or not doesn’t matter to me, it’s almost like the missing piece of the puzzle and like the last step in my bid for freedom. I will of course keep you updated!

The biggest part of my year, I still can’t share – which is a shame. I am working on what started as a side project with work, but has turned out to be something bigger than I could ever have imagined. I am looking forward to being able to share it with everyone….but for now, I am not allowed!

2014, whilst eventful, has been a very a great one. Thank you for sharing it with me, and for your unconditional love and support. I wish you all a very happy, healthy and safe new year!

All my love, as always,

Jayce

xx

 
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Posted by on December 31, 2014 in My Blog

 

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Refocused. Recharged. Returned.

Hey everyone!

I was sitting in my office two weeks ago. Coffee in hand, post it notes scattering the desk, head all over the place.

I am concentrating all my efforts at the moment on my new project. It is something a world away from anything I have ever done before – but as with other things I have done before…it’s a huge challenge that is going to an uphill battle. It will be worth it if I get it right – which means the battle is ultimately worth the battle scars.

I was discussing it with a lady I know, who attended the launch of Train The Change – expressing to her about the self-doubt I have cast upon myself. She reminded me of the start of my journey. The battle with the job centre. The struggles I have faced in stigma. The creation of the TTT campaign….and short of shaking me…she did everything to convince me that I could use these experiences to drive the new project.

She asked about this blog – and what I was doing with the activism side of my life. I explained to her that I had taken a back seat, and felt my journey,or rather my struggle, had come to an end. Something I explained to you all in August. I also told her about something I had been feeling for a while before I stopped blogging.

I had felt like so much was going wrong for me, I used my blog as a way to get all my bottled up and reserved feelings and emotions out. This,whilst it had helped me – wasn’t so positive for those reading it. I felt like in doing this, I had become stale and uninteresting – no longer relevant in what had been such a huge part of my life.

She stressed to me that whilst my struggle was over, and my journey to acceptance had come to end; you guys would want to what happened next – where the journey had led me.She also said that people had been supporting me – and whether or not my posts were all about living with HIV or not – people would still want to read…and that she and her family had missed my posts.

I thought about it for so long, and realised that for so long I had so much support and love given to me….and to disappear, whilst I needed the break, was unfair i guess?

From the bottom of my heart I have to thank Tina Kydd for that conversation. Not only did it help with me with my work struggles and doubts…she gave me the courage I needed to come back to what I honestly LOVE doing!
So I have decided that, I would start writing again! I just hope you guys will enjoy reading it!

A few little updates to start I guess!!

I am still living in Kent, with my wonderful parents! The house is a little crowded with Mum, Stepdad Steve, Sister Gemma and her boyfriend Mark and my niece Ellie and myself, all under one roof! It’s nice to be in a full family home though I guess!

I am the MD of a company – and I LOVE my job, and as soon as I can tell you more, I’ll let you know what the new project is! All i can say is, it’s huge!!

I am single…been that way for a while! I have been on a few dates and recently met with an ex partner for drinks and briefly thought it would rekindle, I have since decided it’s not the right thing to do. History tells me it’s not right for either of us.

Whilst it’s nice to go on dates, I rarely go for date two. I have no interest in one-night stands or purely sexual encounters. I am at a point in my life that I just want someone to cuddle up with and share my life with. I want to meet someone that actually makes me happy, and that I’m not going to realise 6 months down the line, isn’t compatible.

I do have a date on Saturday with another guy. He seems very nice so far, and I remain optimistic that the date will go well!

Well….for now, that’s enough rambling!!

I hope you are all well!!

All my love, as ALWAYS

Jayce
xx

 
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Posted by on December 7, 2014 in My Blog, Support Not Stigma, Train The Change

 

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World AIDS Day 2014

World AIDS Day 2014

Hey everyone!

Long time no speak!! I have been trying desperately to write a post for a while now, but have really struggled. Today however, the incredible amount of love and support being shown across the world is such an inspiration and makes me miss you all terribly! So I would write a post and offer my thoughts about WAD 2014.

I was asked in an interview last week, what World AIDS day means to me, and what relevance I feel it has in 2014. A question that gets asked a lot.

For me – World AIDS day is such a special time. It is as if the world joins hands and takes a moment to remember those who’s lives were cut short, who’s friends and families lost a loved one. It also shows an huge amount of support for those affected by HIV & AIDS and raises awareness that is seems, is still so desperately needed.

I feel a sad today, and I have been reflecting this morning on just how lucky I am. It is a very sobering feeling to know that, had my situation been 20 years ago, my story would be a very different one. I am so grateful that I am lucky enough to be able to plan and to look forward to a long, happy and healthy life.

I am also sad that living where I do, a small seaside town in Kent, England – there is no event to mark this day and for the community to reflect and remember. Having spoken to the owners of the only gay bar near me, I would have expected them to have had something planned – instead, it was a day not known to them. Whether this is because they are a straight couple very new to ‘the scene’ or simply, as is the case with many others, they just simply hadn’t heard of it.

This conversation happened during National HIV testing week – again, somewhat of a surprise giving that, whilst the LGBTQ community fight against the stereotype that comes with HIV & AIDS, we are united in the fight against HIV & AIDS. Across the country both at the weekend and tonight there will be events in most LGBTQ bars & clubs.

Last year I was unable to travel back to Brighton to the candlelit vigil, and instead had a private moment of reflection at home – but I would love to be able to share that moment with friends, family and my local community.

Next year however, I will work with the local bar, to ensure that Thanet has an event and those living with HIV in the area, will be able to experience that feeling of absolute love that I have been lucky enough to feel at events or through you guys!

Today doesn’t just bring sadness to me though – I am so touched that when I went on social media sites – it seems nearly everyone I know is showing their support for the day – and of course, for me as someone living with HIV – that support feels incredible. I will again, have my moment of reflection privately tonight and I will light a candle in memory of those we have lost.

I also want to take this opportunity to give a huge virtual family hug to those affected by HIV across the world – for some of us today is a difficult one, but know the world is holding your hand.

All my love, as always

Jayce
xx

 
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Posted by on December 1, 2014 in My Blog, Support Not Stigma

 

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HIV – Am I over it?

Hey guys.

I’m sorry it’s been so long since I have posted…with work, a (now ex) partner and lots of other commitments, I simply haven’t had the time.

Updates are small, and some insignificant – but I have had a few emails to ask where I am and to let you guys know I am ok.

Work has been crazy since I joined full time as the centre manager – which means a LOT of work and long hours! I am enjoying it…just wish the pace would slow down a little!

I briefly got all loved up and him and I were happy for a few weeks before things started to fizzle out and I decided it was time to call it a day – ending entirely more pleasantly and quickly than my last breakup!

I am missing Brighton and my friends there like crazy and hoping that next year I can move back and move my work there!

I have started writing – this time not for a blog or magazines etc…but for a novel.

It is nice to write about a character, rather than myself for a change! I will of course let you know when it is finished and hope that I can realise my lost childhood ambition of publishing a book.

I have also been approached about sharing my own journey in a book form – but as yet, that is a decision I need a lot of time to think about – again I will keep you posted!

Now, this post is one I have been struggling to write for a while…but it’s things I need to say and to get off my chest. I am a little upset about it – but it brings about a positive change in me, and I hope you guys can understand.

It has been a long time since I have written on here. I know I have really neglected this side of my life recently. Not just online, but generally activism and even really discussing it.

Over the last few weeks I have started to realise that, for me, being positive just isn’t such a massive issue any more. I have just, kinda got used to it.

This time two years ago, I was in a relationship with a very sweet guy – but the relationship hit an iceberg when I couldn’t understand why he wouldn’t tell his parents. I, then, was incredibly ashamed of my status – I felt like they had a right to know who their son was with….me. A guy living with HIV.

Fast forward two years, to my now recent ex. The fact his family didn’t know about my status, about my activism, about my blogging or Train The Change…didn’t bother me in the slightest.

I had finally seen what the first guy had meant by – they don’t need to know, it’s not essential.

Whether his parents, or indeed my recent ex’s parents found out and reacted badly – even then, for those guys it wasn’t an issue – it would be something the parents would have to come to terms, and deal with.

Going out clubbing and meeting guys this time last year – before they had even began to get to know me – I would jump right out and say ‘BY THE WAY, I’M POSITIVE!’

Whether it was my status or my blurting it out that contributed to the rejection I faced – I will never know.

Again, fast forward to now – When I go out, and speak to a guy I like, it’s just not relevant. I no longer fear they will see it as if I have somehow deceived them.

Long gone are the days where I loathe myself for the mistakes I made to get me here – and hardly ever do I get days I pity myself because of my status. Which, a lot of you will know – very different to two years ago.

It’s so hard to adjust to the thing that consumed my life completely for 18 months to suddenly become just another part of me…but, having said that, it’s an adjustment I am happy to make.

What the future holds for me as a blogger – I’m not sure. I will always fight against stigma…that will never change.

I no longer feel lost, confused, upset, angry or any of the other rollercoaster of emotions that made me start, and continue to write about my journey. I feel like I am at my destination….and it’s good to finally be home.

All my love, always

Jayce

xx

 
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Posted by on August 20, 2014 in My Blog

 

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Love doesn’t hurt.

Love doesn’t hurt.

Hi everyone.

This post is in a completely different area than my readers expect….but a subject that has dominated my life for over 6 months, and one I feel I need to get out of my head and on to paper…so to speak.

In 2008, I began a relationship with a man I thought was absolutely incredible, and as it turned out, my first ‘serious relationship’.

Around 6 months later, warning bells started to resound in my ears, albeit falling deafly.

He started to control me – and the worst thing is, I have always been a very observant person, able to read people well, and most of all, I was independent!

Time went on, and as dazzled as I was by the man that made me laugh, made me ‘happy’ and giving me what I had always wanted…only now do I see he was manipulating me to think that is what I wanted.

It didn’t take long until I had given up work, didn’t have my own mobile phone, didn’t see my friends…at least, not on my own…and every aspect of my life involved him.

If I questioned it….that’s how it should be, because we loved each other and why wouldn’t we spend ALL of our time together…

It was this questioning that led to realisation something just wasn’t right…and remember, this was my first ‘proper’ relationship, I simply didn’t have any comparison.

I started to become defiant and resistant to this control…and then I started to see a very different side to him…an angry side, a violent side.

Of course; going to bars came with it’s dangers….one night a guy got hit just for smiling at me….the jealousy and possessiveness was incomprehensible…and completely unnecessary!!

Over the space of two years, I was pushed, shoved, grabbed, hit, punched, kicked and sexually abused….this culminated in a horrific night. The night he tried to kill me.

Had it not been for the fact someone else being in the house, I have no doubt, and he has no shame in admitting, he would have succeeded.

With every slap and every punch…I went back. I hid it, lied for him, covered up for him….and in the end, I cut everyone off because it was easier than hiding it…

It took everything I had to get the courage to leave him….and this time, the last time….I had to move 50 miles away, and not tell anyone, just to stay safe….and to get some clarity in my own head.

Abusers like that get in your head…you don’t realise it, but they are making all the decisions from inside your head…playing you like a fiddle!!

I am watching this situation being mirrored with a very close friend right now….although, the ‘cutting your friends out’ stage has come much later.

I have nightmares about what will happen to her….I panic if 24 hours go by with no contact or at least a Facebook status from her.

To see her take such courage to get out, to fall back in to the trap….like an ant walking towards the suffocating honey in a glass jar….so helpless and unaware of what is before her….no screams or pleads will help…not ever reaching out will prevent the enticement towards the so called nectar….that is the most devastating thing of all.

It’s hard to be put aside for a man that causes her so much pain…and for a man that both her friends and family fear will ultimately lose control and finally achieve what he didn’t before….it’s not just hard….it’s terrifying!

Knowing that all I can do is stand by and pray it doesn’t happen….even worse.

Being in an abusive relationship is hard, from bitter experience I know…..however, with the dark stare of truth, I tell you, it’s worse watching it from the outside, happening to a person you love.

There are no best wishes, yours sincerely’s or love to the end of this post as there usually is….just the essence of pain, of upset and of fear.

 
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Posted by on April 15, 2014 in My Blog

 

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IMPRESS Health 2 – Committee Meeting

IMPRESS Health 2 – Committee Meeting

Hey everyone!

Yesterday I was lucky enough to have been invited to the IMPRESS health 2 study committee meeting, having been asked to advise Kent County Council about what can be done to address sexual health and HIV services in Kent.

The IMPRESS study is to research the issue of late diagnosis in Kent and Picardie in France.

It has become apparent that the two places share very similar statistics related to HIV and late diagnosis rates.

I was asked to attend by Wendy Jeffries, the head of public health services in Kent, after she had seen me on BBC news for the Train The Change launch.

I was asked to consider my thoughts about sexual health services in Kent and why I believed late diagnosis rates were so high in Kent, and what steps could be taken to change this.

After two weeks of racking my brain – I concluded that there were four factors that I thought were linked to people not being tested regularly or indeed being tested at all.

•fear
•ignorance
•accessibility
•stigma

I discussed each of these factors individually and then gave four ways I believe this should be tackled.

•Education
•Advertising
•Campaigns
•Pilot Schemes

I also stressed how important it was to address clinic opening times in Kent – which seem to be muddled, restricted and at times inaccessible.

I also made, for the purposes of the presentation, mock ups of advertising I believe could prompt people to at least consider testing. These came in three categories.

•Encouragement
•Shock Factor
•Identifiable

I showed the group the posters and explained the text and images I had selected.

I then spoke about campaigns – something that has worked well for me as an activist. Whether they be event based such as the Train The Change launch – or social media based like #SupportNotStigma.

The next point was pilot schemes – something that would of course require much more thought – but I highlighted how developing a pioneering scheme could attract media and public support; increasing awareness and possibly testing.

Having heard the statistics that directly affected my county gave me some real perspective on where my focus should be to better educate my local area.

It was agreed by several key members that the target audience for an educational approach should be for adolescents…something I have been focussing on with Train The Change.

I will be speaking to IMPRESS who are leading the study, to gather more information and to discover ways that we could work together to achieve a common goal.

I will also be working with Kent County Council who have shown interest and support in the Train The Change project.

It was a very interesting and insightful meeting and one that will shape my work within my local area. For now though, I have plenty of food for though and I shall update you more as it comes :)

Jayce x

 
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Posted by on March 26, 2014 in Events, My Blog, Train The Change

 

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Train The Change – The Results!

At the beginning of the course, the participants were given two forms to complete.

The first, a multiple-choice knowledge form, and then second, an anonymous form about their feelings and views about HIV & AIDS.

The results were varied on the later, but the results from the multiple-choice were amazing! We had reached our goal – we had trained the change!

Multiple Choice – Before And After

Below are the percentages of right answers before and after the course.

1. What does HIV stand for? (Human Immunodeficiency Virus)

Before – 80%

After – 100%

2. What does AIDS stand for? (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome)

Before – 40%

After – 95%

3. In which year was HIV first seen? (1981)

Before – 55%

After – 100%

4. In which country was AIDS first reported? (USA)

Before – 20%

After – 95%

5. What is the difference between HIV & AIDS (AIDS is caused by HIV)

Before – 55%

After – 85%

6. Which of the following is a way HIV CANNOT be transmitted? (Spitting Or Biting)

Before – 55%

After – 100%

7.Which of the following groups are most affected by HIV worldwide? (Sex between a man and a woman)

Before – 45%

After – 75%

8. Can Insects transmit HIV (No)

Before – 50%

After – 100%

AVERAGE SCORE BEFORE – 4/8

AVERAGE SCORE AFTER – 8/8

The 12 year old girl who attended the evening scored just 2/8 before and 8/8 after!

The 14 year old girl who attended the evening scored 3/8 before and 8/8 after!

The question that they should have attended or not answered itself!

BEFORE THE COURSE

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AFTER THE COURSE

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Testimonials & Feedback

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So with this feedback – and this data – we are confident that we made a difference in people attitudes and knowledge. We can present this data to schools, colleges and workplace’s – including one school that has already asked to book!

We found out on launch night that people were not educated and although only in thought – could have stigmatised….something we changed!

We TRAINED THE CHANGE!

 
 

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Train The Change – The Launch

Train The Change – The Launch

Hey Everyone!

Apologies in the delay of this post – I have spent the last two days in bed really unwell, I guess my body has finally caught up with me after the last few weeks!

It’s a long one, so sit comfortably!!
Well, it has been two days since the launch of Train The Change, and it still doesn’t feel real! That night was more than just a launch to me, more than just a course. It was the moment that all my time as an activist had led up to – the most important moment of my life. The first time I have truly felt pride in myself.

Whilst the family were getting dressed up and ready for the night – I was, not so discreetly, having an anxiety attack and generally panicking. I decided that perhaps some time on my own before would be a good idea – get myself together!

I arrived at the venue and checked for the third time I had everything, then got everything ready, then checked I had everything again!

The first two people to arrive were the community development officer Cara, and Dave, chairman of our community group Newington Big Local – thankfully, both friends of the family so I was put slightly at ease.

More and more people arrived, and with every one, my stomach somersaulted again!

We waited for everyone to arrive – some didn’t make it…but that’s ok – they missed out!

To my surprise one of the women brought with her, her daughter – aged around 12 years old. Apparently people were questioning whether or not she, and her 14 year old friend should be there. A question that would be answered with outstanding clarity.

We handed out questionnaires to everyone; 8 multiple choice questions, and then an anonymous ‘how do you feel’ forms, along with a single word card that wasn’t explained until the last part of the evening.

We began the speeches, and I don’t mind admitting, mine was a disaster, nerves got the better of me!
Rachel from edUKate Training spoke, and then we were ready to begin.

We started with the short film I made – ‘HIV – A Brief History’ – a timeline video with year-by-year statistics and information. The video made people relive the pandemic from the beginning and have fresh in their minds just how serious it still is.

Next we moved on to the 2014 statistics – and spoke about how many people are affected in the UK – when put in to a comparison context, the group were visibly shocked at just how many people that is.

Then came the group work – ‘Myths and Facts’ – Printed out on 19 cards were myths and facts surrounding HIV & AIDS.

The group were spilt up in to three sub-groups and asked to decide amongst themselves whether the information on the cards were true or not. What ensued shocked me.

To me, the things on the cards were obvious. Hearing the debates between the groups was intense! Some were so passionate about their answer that at one point I thought an argument would break out!

The exercise was supposed to last just a few minutes – it was closer to 15…but the conversation, the debate – it was great to hear!!

When each group had finished, we went through the answers – and some of the group were really shocked at the answers – they really learnt from the exercise!

After a quick break I then explained exactly what HIV is – how the virus works and how it affects the body – then did the same with AIDS – and talked about the difference between the two.

Then came the part I was looking forward to the most – a single question that I needed the answer too.

“Raise you hand if you know what PeP is?”

Only two members of the group raised their hands – both gay men.

The only thing that can prevent you contracting HIV once you are exposed to it – and only two? There were 20 people in the room. Ages ranged from 12 – 55. There were girls there that had not long left school – there was one that had only JUST done sex education at school. The number worried me!

I explained exactly what PeP is, how they can get it and stressed the importance of time and adherence.

We spoke about treatments and support for HIV – and looking at some peoples expressions – they realised just how important antiretroviral drugs are, and just how ‘clever’ the virus is when it comes to resistance.

Then came the part about Stigma – The part for me that is so vital, so important, and the reason I was standing before them!

I had given them all a card with a word on it – words associated with Stigma.

‘Disgrace’

‘Shame’

‘Humiliation’

I asked the group to remember a time the word on their card had applied to them. Then told the group that at some time since my diagnosis every single one of these words had applied to me – applied to others living with HIV.

I then spoke about times I had been stigmatised – by old friends, by people on the internet and of course – the guy at the jobcentre.

We spoke about the effects of stigma and one of the group Suzzanne, spoke about her time as a nurse in the 80’s…something that would bring a tear to nearly every eye in the room.

She spoke about two men that had been isolated to a room, in which people couldn’t go in without being completely covered – gloves, aprons, eye protection etc.

People were looking through the glass, and fearing the men inside – all but Suzzanne. She was pregnant at the time and was specifically told she was not to go inside. She refused.

“When I looked in to that room, I didn’t see the illness, I saw two men – early to mid twenties. Age went away from them, I saw the look on one of the boys faces – I saw a scared boy that was dying. I went in, held his hand and comforted him. He can’t have lived more than two days after that.”

Everyone in the room had a look of horror on their faced as they realised it was like that back then – and everyone in the room gave Suzzanne a round of applause – she was one of those first people that fearlessly gave support, not stigma.

I then played the Support Not Stigma video and ended the session – slightly later than planned!

We handed out the same questionnaires that we had at the beginning and gave people their certificates.

I will publish the results of the before and after – but I will share with you one participants score.

The 12 year old girl, that it was suggested shouldn’t have been there.
Before the course, knew nothing about HIV & AIDS – she scored just 2/8 on the multiple choice.

After the course, she scored an amazing 8/8 – and on her feedback form wrote this
“I disagreed with the time limit of the course…I wanted it to last longer, I want to know even more! I really enjoyed it!”
She then came to me as I was packing up and said
“I think it is wrong that people have treated you differently – you are a really nice man, and having HIV doesn’t change that”

The words of a 12 year old girl, that ‘shouldn’t have been there’ will stay with me for the rest of my life!

All my love

Jayce x

FOR RESULTS POST – CLICK THIS LINK

http://justjayce.com/2014/02/22/train-the-change-the-results/

 

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